The best books for children with mind-blowing plot twists

Christyne Morrell Author Of Kingdom of Secrets
By Christyne Morrell

The Books I Picked & Why

The False Prince (Ascendance #1)

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book cover of The False Prince (Ascendance #1)

Why this book?

If you’ve read Kingdom of Secrets, you know I love a story with rich political intrigue, in which the characters are so complex and nuanced that it’s impossible to pin them down as simply “good” or “bad.” In The False Prince, Nielsen keeps us in suspense until the very end as to the motives and intentions of her characters, which results in several big, shocking reveals.   

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The City of Ember

By Jeanne DuPrau

Book cover of The City of Ember

Why this book?

The premise of this book is the first thing that drew me in – the city of Ember is shrouded in darkness, and the lamps that provide the only light have begun to dim. Two kids discover an ancient message that may help them save the city while also revealing its mysterious origins. I found myself racing to the end of this book to discover the secrets of Ember, and, like a lightbulb flickering to life in a dark room, the payoff was incredibly satisfying.  

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The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast

By Samantha M. Clark

Book cover of The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast

Why this book?

I was intrigued by this book from the first page when Boy wakes up all alone on an island with no memory of who he is or how he got there. From there, Boy must piece together his identity while figuring out how to escape from the island and get back home – wherever that may be. The tone of the story is unsettling and mysterious, leading to a conclusion that is surprising, heartbreaking, and rewarding.

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When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead

Book cover of When You Reach Me

Why this book?

One of my all-time favorites, this book deftly combines a compelling mystery with a delicate examination of friendship and family. Sixth-grade Miranda starts receiving anonymous notes describing events that haven’t happened yet, including an untimely death. When the messages begin to come true, Miranda realizes it’s up to her to prevent a tragedy. A beautifully told tale with an ending will leave readers awestruck.  

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By Peter Bunzl

Book cover of Cogheart

Why this book?

I was initially drawn to the steampunk elements of this story but was quickly pulled into Lily’s plight. Lily’s father invented a priceless machine before he suddenly went missing. Now she must find him before she’s nabbed by the shadowy figures who think she knows where his invention is hidden. Action and adventure abound, but it’s the mystery at the heart of this story that kept me ravenously flipping pages.   

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